Meet the local nonprofit fighting to protect Costa Rica's isolated coastal communities through sustainable tourism, environmental education and turtle conservation.
Who Are They?
Fundación Corcovado is made up of a small team of local biologists, conservationists and social workers. In collaboration with locals, they offer a sustainability certification program for local tour operators, work with local youth to protect the natural environment and operate a comprehensive turtle hatchery, protecting eggs from poaching and securing the future of local tourism.
"Working directly with communities means we can create more durable programs".
"We design each park to fit the unique needs of every community".
Why is their work so important?
Isolation, poor access to education and a lack of economic opportunity means that residents of Drake Bay are some of Costa Rica's most vulnerable.
(Anecdotal, Fundacion Corcovado)
Tourism represents one of the few sources of local revenue, yet unsustainable practices are threatening the sectors future.
Endangered species including turtles and jaguar regularly fall victim to illegal poaching and an unregulated mining sector.
What do they do?
The community of Drake Bay lies on the north-western coast of Corcovado National Park, accessible either by boat or a 50km stretch of rocky dirt track. Opportunities for income are limited, and the local economy relies almost entirely upon a steady stream of tourists that come to witness the regions incredible bio-diversity. Through a series of collaborative projects with the local community, Fundación Corcovado aim to support both the local environment and tourism sector for generations to come.
Each week, Fundación Corcovado staff visit each of the five after-school youth groups that have been established in the communities surrounding Drake Bay. Here, they run a series of workshops with local youth, fostering a culture that respects the local environment by promoting sustainable lifestyles. Activities include beach clean-ups, wildlife walks, art workshops and biology classes for older students. All activities are integrated into a dedicated curriculum created by the Fundación in collaboration with local educators to meet the specific needs of their community.
Sea Turtle Conservation
Since 2006, Fundación Corcovado has managed sea turtle conservation projects on the beaches surrounding Drake Bay. These projects focus upon the protection of eggs from poachers, beach conservation and the production of academic research. Unfortunately, given a belief that turtle eggs function as an aphrodisiac, poaching continues to threaten local turtle populations. To protect eggs, the Fundación manages a team of local and international volunteers that patrol beaches for 8 hours every night, collecting eggs and burying them in a protected hatchery. This practice is informed by a growing body of academic research, some of which is produced by visiting academics that collaborate directly with the Fundación.
What do locals think?
"Patrolling the beach every night is tough work, but it's all worth it when we find a turtle and can help protect their eggs."
"I'll be here for six months, collecting data and working with the Fundacion to create and manage the hatchery."
Mayra (far right)
Fundación Corcovado Employee
"I love that I can take an active role in supporting the community i've lived in my entire life."